Ship may sail to Gaza without permission

2011-07-01 10:01

Athens - A US ship declared it may set sail from a Greek port for Gaza without permission and an Irish ship has dropped out of the pro-Palestinian flotilla planning to break Israel's blockade of Gaza, citing sabotage, activists said.

Up to 400 international activists had been due to sail this week to Gaza aboard 10 ships leaving from Greece to protest the naval blockade that Israel imposed on the Palestinian territory after Hamas militants overran it in 2007.

An Israeli raid on a similar flotilla last year killed nine activists on a Turkish ship and each side blamed the other for the violence.

On Thursday, American activist Ann Wright said Greek authorities were bowing to Israeli pressure and deliberately stalling the departure of 53 passengers and crew - including 11 journalists - aboard a ship named the Audacity of Hope from a port near Athens.

"We're fed up with it already, we've already waited seven days. We were ready to go a week ago," Wright said.

She wouldn't say how long activists would wait for the all-clear before the 33m ferry begins its journey. But she said the Greek coast guard would "probably" stop the boat shortly after departing.

Netanyahu thanks world leaders

Audacity of Hope passenger Alice Walker, author of the acclaimed novel The Color Purple, on Thursday read to journalists letters and cards that American children are sending to Gaza residents via the ship.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the flotilla on Thursday evening at a graduation ceremony for new pilots in central Israel, praising the action of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

"Sometimes we are required not only to repel physical attacks by our enemies but also repel the attacks against our right to defend ourselves. In that regard, I want to thank the many world leaders who spoke out and acted lately against the flotilla provocation," he said.

"Israel has the full right to act against attempts to legitimise the smuggling of missiles, rockets and other weapons to the terror enclave of Hamas," he added.

The UN's top human rights official on Thursday welcomed the Israeli government's decision to drop its threat to issue deportation orders against journalists on the flotilla.

"I'm always taking the view that the blockade of Gaza is illegal and must be lifted, since it results in a disproportionate use of force against civilians," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told reporters in Geneva.

Israeli agents fingered

The Irish ship MV Saoirse on Thursday had to abandon plans to set sail because of what it called Israeli sabotage. Activist Huwaida Arraf told Israel's Army Radio that the ship's engine was damaged while in port and could have lead to deaths on board.

"When the engine was started, it completely bent," Arraf said. "While out at sea, if this would have happened, if it would have bent in this way, the boat would have started taking on water and it could have led to fatalities."

The alleged sabotage occurred at the Turkish coastal town of Gocek where the MV Saoirse has been berthed for the past few weeks, organisers said.

Earlier this week, activists said Israeli agents damaged the propeller of a Swedish ship in the Greek port.

Israel has refused AP requests for comment on the allegations.

US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner - asked to comment on Thursday on the alleged sabotage - said there was no proof it had taken place due to a lack of "independent confirmation".

Toner, speaking to reporters in Washington, said State Department opinion is "the flotillas are a bad idea", and there're other ways to get this kind of assistance to Gaza.

"Our bottom line is, we don't want to see anyone put at risk. And that would include any action to sabotage these boats but also the boats themselves - the flotillas themselves - will put these individuals at risk."

  • Zanu - 2011-07-01 10:50,7340,L-4089709,00.html Read it - very interesting and blows the flotilla BS out the water; pun intended.

  • kubs - 2011-07-01 10:52

    "I'm always taking the view that the blockade of Gaza is illegal and must be lifted, since it results in a disproportionate use of force against civilians," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told reporters in Geneva..Im really proud of Navi Pillay and shes proudly South African!..Israel is EVIL

      Zanu - 2011-07-01 11:00

      Flotillas are not for the benefit of Gazans They never were. Acts like these are exclusively for the benefit of self-centered Leftists and guilty Westerners. These people aren't bringing Gaza any aid, and none of the possess any skills lacking in the terror enclave. They're embarking on a free Mediterranean cruise, to get their picture taken, and get bragging rights to friends and family. That's all... PS. Hamas is EVIL

      The huntchback - 2011-07-01 12:13

      Zanu, we all know you work for Mosad, I wonder how much they paying you to spread Israeli Proppaganda. Everyone knows Israel is nothing but an Apartheid State in-fact I think the Apartheid we saw in South Africa is nothing compared to what the Palestinians have to endure everyday.

      Cornix - 2011-07-01 12:41

      David Horowitz: “I am a Jew. The head of Hezbollah has said that he hopes that we will gather in Israel so he doesn’t have to hunt us down globally… For it or against it?” Jumanah Albahri: “For it.” Kubs? The huntchback? What are your answers?

      kubs - 2011-07-01 14:17

      @ Cornix..if you and your family has been starved and persecuted like the palestinians are I am pretty certain that u will be taking the same stance..israel does not want peace...they force the palestinians to react and then respond with 50 times the force..thats wat u call calculated evil..Any angle u look at it..Israel is evil

      Cornix - 2011-07-01 14:41

      Kubs, Kubs, why are you dodging the question in that way? This is about Jew-hatred and the support for a second Holocaust. It is the cause of all the problems regarding Israel.

  • JT4 - 2011-07-01 10:58

    This whole flotilla idea is flawed. If they truly were delivering life-critical aid they could have taken it via Egypt and it would have been there weeks ago. Clearly this is just a PR stunt that may well end in drama.

      The huntchback - 2011-07-01 12:14

      The last flotilla forced Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza, how can it not be of benifit to the Gazan`s

  • Cornix - 2011-07-01 12:26

    Oh please, tell me what on Earth is meant by: "the engine completely bent"!!!

  • Cornix - 2011-07-01 12:28

    "The alleged sabotage occurred at the Turkish coastal town of Gocek ..." ... sniff ... sniff ...

      Matt - 2011-07-01 14:48

      Last time I checked, Turkey was not pro-Israel

  • kubs - 2011-07-01 14:10

    Israel has stated that activists on the ship plan to attack Israeli soldiers and israel shud defend itself..attack?..with what?..can of tinned food?..and as usual the pro israel lunatics have lapped up this propaganda..

      Cornix - 2011-07-01 15:20

      Kubs, they were attacked last year, as soon as they set foot on that flotilla, remember. Video footage proved that. What's the problem? Doesn't Israel have the right to be cautious in such a case?

  • lakhan7 - 2011-07-01 14:25

    ...would be a petty if Pirates kidnap them... ;)

  • meelo - 2011-07-01 15:16

    Cornix you failed to mention that you a Zionist as well.

      Cornix - 2011-07-01 16:04

      Meelo, define the term "Zionist" for me, please.

  • Fair Deal - 2011-07-01 15:48

    The UN has no right to comment on human rights since it approved a bombing campaign in Libya resulting in countless civilian deaths. Who would have guessed that enforcing a no fly zone means bombing the no fly area. Wright is wrong if she believes that Israel will allow flotilas of arms to the Palistinians to be used against its civilians. I am sure we will see the use of high tech non lethal weaponry in the up comming events with satelight imagery for the non believers.

  • meelo - 2011-07-01 16:12

    @cornix - you the one that should look it up & look up the word evil and see the relation....

      Cornix - 2011-07-01 16:54

      So if I'm a Zionist, coming from your mouth, what does that make you? An Islamic Extremist, I guess.

  • meelo - 2011-07-01 17:01

    who said im Muslim or Islamist, you need help.

  • meelo - 2011-07-01 20:38

    lol Arabic-speaking Egyptian, that confirms your insanity.

  • pages:
  • 1